Monday, November 23, 2009

Layout updates

I'm getting closer to closing the loop for the second phase of the layout. The middle level tunnel storage track is in, and the S-curve from Abzweig Talheim to the switch at the base of the future incline to Emsingen station is built.

I'm now working on connecting Talheim South to the long ramp along the wall, and then the temporary cross-over to the switch mentioned above. I'll probably need another one or two evenings to piece that together. Then another evening of odds and ends and I should be able to run trains from staging ("Schattenstadt") to Talheim station, via the new loop and Abzweig Talheim back into staging.

Meanwhile track 1 is glued down in Talheim. I'll probably do some very basic scenery around Talheim station, ballast the station tracks and built a simple platform, once the industry tracks to the creek bridge and beyond the street tunnel are installed. I'll skip the signals for now, as I'm very worried I might accidentally break them during the ongoing construction.

Once the loop is closed I'll focus on connecting underfloor, slow-motion switch machines, building a small control table, and going back to try and get computer control working, at least as far as track occupancy detection and basic layout control is concerned. This should keep me busy for a few weeks. All rolling stock needs to be cleaned, and fixed up.

I test-ran all locomotives with an analaog power pack a couple weeks ago. While all need cleaning, several are pretty much ready to be converted to digital operation. A few have mechanical issues that need a closer look (Schweizer Krokodil and BR53), and 2 are completely gummed up. One doesn't move at all, no lights, no nothing (my favorite pair of BR236 aka "Doppeltes Lottchen"), and the other shows light, but doesn't move.
I selected the BR50 with cabin tender as my next "victim". It's a good runner, a nice model, and in excellent condition. It also as a quite finicky lead-truck which will help find problematic sections of track.

In the new year we have a big kitchen renovation coming up, so I don't think I'll have much time for major work. However, once that's done, I'll built out the ramps up to Emsingen station, put in a connecting track, and then move on to building Emsingen station, as well as start the mountain and landscaping at the south end of the layout.

I'm planning to build most of Emsingen station outside the layout room and drop it into place, once all track alignments, wiring and switch machines are installed. It's much easier to work on such a big piece when you can access it freely from all sides. It will likely take up some space in the garage for a couple months...

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